Africa

Feature: Liberian Political Parties in “Catch-22” Situation

Though most Liberians are agreed the crucial and now temporarily suspended presidential run-off scheduled on November 7th should provide the way forward for recovery in this postwar country, some opposition parties that failed to reach the runoff now feel embarrassed for having committed themselves in the so-called Ganta Declaration to gang up against their ruling party in the event of a run-off election.

Political Parties Leadera in Liberia

Political Parties Leaders in Liberia

Now, the hitherto hidden snare has surfaced as chickens must come to roost when the coalition headed by former football star George Weah and incumbent vice president Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party will duel in the runoff, if and when the scheduled run-off happens.

The matter resembles a catch-22 for some opposition parties that came in four descending places after Boakai’s 28.8 percent below that of Weah’s 38 percent.

The onus is on opposition parties that agreed to form a common block against the ruling party their—sworn enemy—only in case there is no first round victory for any party are racing against to swallow the bitter pill.

Opposition parties entered the pact unmindful of the fact that Weah’s CDC coalition was fortified with Jewel Howard-Taylor’s NPP and Alex Tyler’s People United Party, formed after breaking ranks with the ruling UP and losing the speakership to James E. Nuquay, now running mate of Boakai.

The likelihood of honoring the Ganta Declaration before the run-off election by opposition parties like Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress of Alexander Cummings that filed against suspected election irregularities with the National Elections Commission are near impossible. They are in court seeking redress and possible injunction on the runoff.

Meanwhile, controversial Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson who came fourth and could surely be a kingmaker,  a little over a week ago, publicly endorsed the CDC coalition of Weah “in the spirit of the Ganta declaration signed in November 2016.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

The endorsement came after Johnson and Weah were seen together recently in Nigerian televangelist T.B. Joshua’s synagogue in Abuja; but Johnson said their appearance together under the prelate’s invocation was purely coincidental.

Yet the former warlord who thrice failed to win the presidency, admits he previously sought spiritual counsel and guidance from Pastor Joshua to help him reconcile with Grand Gedeans for torturing Dictator Samuel Doe to death in 1990.

Johnson had earlier criticized Weah for allegedly unleashing his supporters to wound loyalists of the Liberty Party during a campaign rally in Saniquellie, Nimba County, sayng: “I reject the spilling of Nimbains’ blood and called on all Nimbaians not to vote for Weah because he is not president yet; his followers are causing confusion.”

Immediately after Johnson pledged support to Weah whom he often refers to Weah as “my son”, came the support of George Sluwar Dweh’s (Gedeh) of the Liberia Transformation Party that earned less than one percent of the votes, to the CDC coalition.

It appears the cardinal focus of all opposition parties was to galvanize toward ousting the UP, while oblivious that each party was not in the race to win a joint trophy, but specifically win the presidency.

Benoni Urey pledged support to the Unity Party which its new campaign mobilization chair, Edwin Snowe says is now engaged in a “Jehovah witness’s style campaign” for the runoff.

Liberians Waiting To Vote

Liberian Voters At Polling Stations On Oct 10th

As campaign for the runoff appears rather lackluster with the CDC banking on commitment of opposition parties that signed the Ganta declaration but were defeated in the first round further political negotiations are expected, though the declaration is silent on that only insisting on stopping prolongation of the Unity Party rule.

The bottom line here is Liberians will be forced to live with the inevitability of a George Weah presidency since voters who see themselves through him vastly outnumber the older generation who believe placing Liberia’s posterity now in the hands of someone whose only legacy is the talent of goal scoring is unsound. And unlike other international football stars of his caliber, Weah has done nothing concrete in Liberia to depict his football prowess and gains.

Moreover, Weah refused to participate in all debates for presidential candidates and has shunned invitations to appear on T-Jlateh’s 50-50 talk show in Monrovia.

By Tepitapia Sannah

Contributing Writer

Monrovia, Liberia